Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rainforest Journey {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

Anyone that has ever met Lauren can tell that her world often revolves around her American Girl dolls. This year's Girl of the Year is Lea Clarke, a ten-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, who visits her older brother in the rain forest of Brazil. Lauren used Christmas and Birthday money to add Lea to her collection a few months ago, and now she's interested in learning anything and everything about rain forests.

EdTechLens has a digital learning program for kids that looked perfect for Lauren. Rainforest Journey teaches elementary life science concepts by exploring the rich environment of rainforests.

Rainforest Journey contains 34 lessons. At the third grade level, the lessons span over three screens. Each screen has at least one and sometimes several beautiful large photographs and a few sentences explaining the concept it illustrates.

The rest of the information about the concept is available by clicking below the picture.

One helpful feature is that this program will read the text to the student, which means I don't have to hover nearby to help Lauren pronounce unfamiliar or difficult words. This is especially important because some of the passages scored at a fourth or fifth grade reading level when I tested them.

Each picture also contains enrichment information with further interesting information relating to the picture. As far as I can tell, the enrichment information isn't covered on the assessments. Again, the student can opt to listen to this text if the reading is difficult.

At the end of every lesson, the student can print out a lesson review worksheet. Most of these review worksheets offer open-ended questions, and therefore there aren't any answer sheets for the teacher. Lauren complained a bit that her review sheets for the first four lessons were identical. Later lessons had different review questions.

At the end of each of the five units, there are several additional assessment options. One is a Depth of Knowledge assessment that has several multiple choice questions that require the student to apply higher level thinking skills to what they have learned. For instance, one question showed a picture of a plant and asked the student what would happen if the leaves of the plant were wider. The other assessments were based more directly on the text in the lessons. All three of the unit assessment options have answer keys available for the teacher/parent.

Lauren says she enjoys using Rain Forest Journey, but she later admitted that her favorite part was that it was one of her shortest subjects each day. On a typical day she spends five or ten minutes looking at the pictures and listening to the accompanying text. She then spends another ten minutes working on the review page, often referring back to the lesson to find interesting facts to record. At the rate of three lessons per week, she'll finish the program in less than a semester. I'll call this program a fun science supplement, but I'm not ready to use it as a full curriculum.

A one-year license to EdTechLens is $50 and allows for one student log-in account. They also offer a $75 discounted option for up to five students using the same grade level materials.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

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